The Art of Mastering the JigSaw
Charleroi Travel Blog› entry 61 of 94 › view all entries
I have done it – I managed to trick the system and I am sitting at Gate 11 of Brussels South Charleroi Airport feeling the warm glow of excitement as I am about to board my Ryan Air to Edinburgh (or shall I say ‘Ryan Where’ since the bus took just under an hour to travel here from Brussels Midi/Zuid station.) Clearly I am in deep dark Belgium (it’s just gone 8.30pm) and there are no truffles to be found.
It’s quite interesting to note that I asked a man who worked at the Brussels Train Station where I had to catch the bus from for the airport and he replied to me in both Dutch and English saying that he had never heard of the bus before and I would need to go and ask someone else.
The day started well. I packed carefully and strategically. As I have been on a tight budget, I was limited by my frugalness and managed to find an airfare to Edinburgh for €7. Pretty good saving I thought as all the other fares I found around this time were in high €80 mark. Sure I would have to get myself to Charleroi, but this still worked out cheaper than the other fares on offer. The only real problem was the restrictions.
Special Internet Fare, Non Refundable, Non Changeable are words I am common with, especially for years of having worked in the travel industry, but this ‘Special Internet Airfare’ I had purchased had even more restrictions.
Warning, my booking screamed in big bold letters, you may only take one piece of luggage with you. No problem I thought. I’m only going for a couple of weeks and I don’t have that much with me in the way of clothes, so I don’t have much to pack.
Warning, my booking yelled in flashing print, you may only take up to 10 kilograms of luggage. No sweat I thought. I’m used to having only 7 kilograms of hand luggage, this extra 3 kilograms is redundant anyhow.
Warning, my Internet booking was mocking me. Did it not want to be booked? “Handbag, Briefcase, Laptop, Shop Purchases, Cameras etc must be carried within your 1 cabin bag”. Ok, I replied bag haughtily to the computer. I get it. I know. I understand. Now let me book you!
What I forgot to take into account was the size restrictions of the piece of luggage. Obviously I got carried away with the prize (or the price as it happened to be), and booked this super duper cheap airfare and I had no cabin bag that would be of acceptable size to the airline. Come to the rescue … my cousins Roland and Melanie. They have kindly lent me their lovely blue Samsonite cabin bag. I have never traveled with such stylish luggage before …. or heavy.
Yes, this cabin bag is quite weighty and I have spent the morning trying to work out what I could cull out of it in order to get down to my 10-kilogram restriction. Remember how I acted so haughty before saying I would never need the full 10 kilograms? Now it turns out I need another 1.2kg. Upon the last two weighs of the bag, I had two very different outcomes. The first was 9.2kg. Yes, very happy with that. I was well under. Second time after adding a pair of socks it skyrocketed to 11.2kg. Could you believe it! Who knew my small running socks weighed so much? Obviously the average between the two is just over 10 kg (10.2 to be exact) so I was hopeful this would be an acceptable excuse upon arrival.
So this morning has been the process of trying out different options of fitting in all that I will possibly need while I’m away, and still ensuring that I am under the weight limit. I have packed well. Nothing frivolous was packed. I am wearing all the clothing that I will have with me through this journey, excluding my underwear and heavy, very heavy socks which I had to put in the cabin bag.
I have packed in my camera that I have fashioned out of other camera parts from around the world, I have packed in my small first aid kit with cool coloured plasters, which has already been of use as I got a paper cut this morning from all the printing I had done with maps for backpacker locations etc. I have also packed my laptop so I can keep up to date with my blog and the highly addictive card game I’ve downloaded, and I have packed my jandals (for the showers), a torch (for finding my way around the dorm rooms in the dark), a sleep sheet and towel and I have packed some traveling shampoo, toothpaste and my dental floss. But there is another thing that I have packed … my food, or more importantly my noodles and cup of soup. I had to cull a couple of things in order to reduce the weight and sadly this included the tins of tuna. But I have with me soup, muesli bars, peperkoek, noodles and crackers.
So now I have my cabin bag jigsaw completed but I am using my jacket as another sneaky place to stuff things. ‘Everything must fit into the cabin bag’ is what has been haunting my mind and I really don’t want to run the risk of Ryan Air weighing my bag and then having to pay the €35 penalty. I nearly walked into their cleverly disguised trap earlier when I reread the incredibly small, microscopic print and saw that it mentioned because I had purchased their special fare, I needed to check in online and print my boarding pass prior to departure otherwise I would have to pay an extra fee. Oh no, not if I can help it.
So here I am at Gate 11, with all my pockets stuffed full of things I can’t afford to go into my cabin bag, listening to people speaking …. well I think they’re speaking English but their Scottish accents are so thick on top of it I can’t tell. Hopefully when I board, the gate staff will weigh my luggage and say I may board as my weight is “SCOT on”.